In what was a giant undertaking (even for producer Norman Granz), pianist Oscar Peterson recorded ten Songbook albums during 1952-1954 and when his trio changed, nine more in 1959. Both of his George Gershwin projects (one from 1952 and the other from 1959) have been reissued in full on this single CD. The earlier date matches the brilliant Peterson with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Brown, while the 1959 session has Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen. The Songbook series found Peterson playing concise (around three-minute) versions of tunes, and he always kept the melody in the forefront. The results are not innovative or unique, but they are tasteful and reasonably enjoyable. Since five of the songs are played by both groups, a comparison between the two units is interesting.
During the late '50s, Ella Fitzgerald continued her Song Book records with Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book, releasing a series of albums featuring 59 songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Those songs, plus alternate takes, were combined on a four-disc box set, Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book, in 1998. These performances are easily among Fitzgerald's very best, and for any serious fan, this is the ideal place to acquire the recordings, since the sound and presentation are equally classy and impressive.
This 1959 release from pianist Oscar Peterson is one of several albums he recorded in the 1950s dedicated to specific composers. Peterson revisits many of the same songs he included on an earlier Gershwin album, backed on these sessions by Ray Brown on double bass and drummer Ed Thigpen.
This admittedly pricey - but by all means mandatory - Grammy Award-winning box set is the final word on the "songbooks" recorded by Ella Fitzgerald between 1956 and 1964. The audio contents have been completely remastered and each title has been expanded - wherever possible - to include previously unissued material. In terms of packaging, the producers went to extreme lengths to create exact reproductions of all the vintage LP jacket artwork. Even going so far as to precisely miniaturize the entire hardbound text The Gershwins: Words Upon Music that accompanied their 1959 collection as well as the booklet that came with the Ellington anthology…
This programme features concert music by composers who also wrote film scores for Hollywood. While this was just one string to the considerable bows of Gershwin and Copland, Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman are best known for their music for Hitchcock films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Marnie and Psycho for Herrmann; and Rebecca and The Paradine Case for Waxman). Centre stage is Gershwin’s Song-book, arranged by the composer for solo piano in order to present the songs ‘as George Gershwin plays them himself’.
This admittedly pricey – but by all means mandatory – Grammy Award-winning box set is the final word on the "songbooks" recorded by Ella Fitzgerald between 1956 and 1964. The audio contents have been completely remastered and each title has been expanded – wherever possible – to include previously unissued material.